Park given for free enjoyment of town

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Re: Cllr Mildmay White’s letter about Nowton park (Bury Free Press, April 20).

I was on St Edmundsbury Borough Council at the time Nowton Park was offered to the borough by the Oaks family.

At the time, it was envisaged as an area of unspoilt countryside to be used for the free enjoyment of residents.

Nowton Park has developed over the years and now provides recreational and sports facilities for all. It is also well used by a diverse range of people who just like walking and enjoying the countryside.

I cannot dispute the figures given by Cllr Mildmay White, nor as she says, that ‘residents expressed a preference that the user pays’. However, I would argue that residents already pay through their Council Tax.

I firmly believe that the ethos behind the establishment of Nowton Country Park is being destroyed by ‘charging to enjoy’. This policy, and the ticket machines which support it, has necessitated the painting of double yellow lines on a quiet country road.

It saddens me to think that our heritage is being destroyed without thought – and for what?

Barbara J Hill (Jennings),

Ex-Mayor and Hon Alderman St Edmundsbury Borough Council.

 I could not believe reading that car parking charges have been introduced at Nowton Park. I have memorial bench dedicated to my son, Sam Harber, overlooking the all-weather pitches. I am not the only one who has paid for a bench to be erected in the park. Now I have to pay for the privilege of visiting his bench, it comes across as that the council is being insensitive to people’s feelings.

Why should we have to pay? I was under the impression that the upkeep of parks and open spaces were paid for by Council Tax.

I read that a new café has been built, now that no-one visits the park no doubt it will close, very forward thinking of the council.

Mrs K Castro Pinto,

Ixworth.

 CLLR Sara Mildmay White comments that in the consultation survey the public chose ‘user to pay’, but in this survey did the council tell us what the proposed charges were and the cost of installing pay and display machines?

We need informed consent – it’s all very well agreeing to charges if we know what those charges are going to be.

I believe the motorist pays £1 million a year over and above the cost of providing and maintaining the town car parks – why? To supposedly keep Council Tax down.

If we should all pay for services we use (some of which we already pay for via Council Tax), then library services should all be chargeable and visitors to The Apex should pay the full cost as the venue is currently subsidised by the tax-payer.I use neither of these, so why should the tax I pay be used to provide those services for others to use? After all, those who do not use the car parks do not subsidise my use of them. If the council expects to have an income of £25,000 from parking at Nowton Park, then this represents a fraction of the overcharge of £1 million. Surely this means that parking at Nowton Park should be free to encourage everyone to be more active and enjoy fresh air.

Name and address supplied.

 Another Friday and another wry chuckle to myself when I see the words ‘borough council’ and ‘budget consultation’ in close proximity to each other.

So now we have a pretty road vandalised by ‘temporary’ double yellow lines; the sight of tumbleweed blowing across the deserted Nowton car park, and the offer of one of those mythical consultations before the situation is made permanent.

The words ‘horse’, ‘stable door’ and ‘fait accompli’ spring to mind.

Whenever a foolhardy, downright silly and some might even say underhanded decision is spotlighted, up pops a councilor to say ‘Ahh!

But we have a budget consultation to support us’.

Ever get the impression these are being used as convenient fig-leaves ?

The consultation questions are so general and vague that the replies can be used to justify any scheme the council comes up with and they always seem to involve handing over more money.

Keith Chapman,

Bury St Edmunds.

 There has, quite rightly, been a loud outcry against the half-mile of double-yellow lines that suddenly appeared outside Nowton Park shortly ahead of the imposition of parking charges by St Edmundsbury Council. This took everyone by surprise, including, the two county councillors and the parish council, none of whom were consulted or even informed before the Highways Department put the lines in. How did this happen? In short, it appears that St Edmundsbury Council, which runs Nowton Park and Suffolk County Council, which looks after the roads, didn’t talk to each other before the meters came in. Then, with a couple of weeks to go, the penny dropped and, fearful of an accident caused by parked cars avoiding the charges, Suffolk County Council applied for a special order to put in the double-yellows. So, down they went. The lines, to put it politely, are an eyesore as many BFP readers have already pointed out. So where next? These lines can stay there for up to 18 months under the special order Suffolk Council successfully obtained. In the meantime, the usual consultation processes can take place around whether they should stay. Are there alternatives? Of course. The sensible solution along that road is a clearway, designated by signs and requiring no road markings. So, if you wish to see these lines removed and replaced by a clearway, please contact the county councillors serving that stretch of road – Cllr Craig Dearden-Phillips and Cllr Terry Clements.

Cllr Craig Dearden-Phillips,

Hardwick Divison.

 Bury Labour Party Town Branch members object to the introduction of parking charges at Nowton Park.

The park is a community open space and, like the Abbey Gardens, is used well and regularly by people across the whole community. By introducing parking charges you are effectively taxing residents for use of the park.

The parking charges are restrictive for regular users, especially families with young children, dog-walkers and sports people. The season ticket does offer a discount, but is still an unnecessary additional cost.

The parking charges are already having an effect in terms of visitor numbers and over time are bound to continue this trend. People will be less inclined to use the park for open-air pursuits such as walking and cycling, which goes against all advice on health and well-being and current strategies being implemented by the government to tackle obesity.

As the borough council’s own policy on parks and gardens states: “6.11 Open spaces near residential areas can add significantly to quality of life. They not only help people to take part in outdoor pursuits, they also contribute to the quality of the environment.”

It is vitally important in a time of economic recession that every member of the community has equal access to facilities that provide recreation and leisure opportunity. The borough council’s own information page about Nowton Park uses the phrase ‘access for all’; this now seems a hollow statement.

As a consequence, the Labour Party Bury Town Branch calls upon the borough council to withdraw the parking charges with immediate effect in order to restore the park to its rightful owners – the people of Bury St Edmunds – for the free and unlimited enjoyment of all

Eleanor Rehahn, Chair,

Bury Town Branch Labour Party.